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The tenant is justified in abandoning the premises, if, as a result of the landlord's breach of his covenant to repair, the leased premises become unfit for the purpose for which they were leased.
Defendants, Mark Johnston et al., were lessees under two office lease agreements with Dell'armi Builders, Inc., plaintiff-lessor. Defendants notified plaintiff by letter that they considered themselves to have been constructively evicted from the premises due to a continuous leaky roof and other alleged breaches of the office leases. Plaintiff lessor filed a complaint against defendant lessees, alleging breach of the lease agreement and seeking payments for rent. Defendants asserted that the trial court erred in ruling that they breached the lease agreements and were not constructively evicted when they abandoned the leasehold premises and failed to pay rent after the abandonment. Plaintiff asserted that it was entitled to attorney fees and costs. The Circuit Court of Cook County (Illinois) granted judgment to the plaintiff on its complaint but denied plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees. The defendants filed an appeal against the judgment. Plaintiff filed a cross-appeal against the denial of attorney fees and costs.
Did the defendants breach the lease agreement and were not constructively evicted when they abandon the premises?
The court affirmed the trial court’s judgment to the plaintiff on its complaint against the defendants for breach of the lease agreement and payment of rent. The court found that the trial court's finding that the defendants were not constructively evicted was not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence because there was documentary evidence that the plaintiff monitored the building and made repairs.